Friday, 7 December 2018

Godfrey Blount's Christmas Greetings

The Haslemere Educational Museum have printed Christmas cards this year with Godfrey Blount designs.  These unique cards showcase the special local talent of Haslemere's Peasant Arts movement, and raise money for the museum who hold the only collection of the Haslemere Peasant Arts movement.  They have been selling like hot cakes, even the overtly religious design!

I've now safely bought my cards, so I invite you to buy yours.

Godfrey Blount Christmas Cards,
for sale at Haslemere Educational Museum

Godfrey Blount Christmas Cards,
for sale at Haslemere Museum

Friday, 31 August 2018

Haslemere Museum Annual Report 2017

Haslemere Peasant Tapestry on the cover of the newly published 2017 Annual Report of the Haslemere Educational Museum.

Monday, 2 April 2018

Godfrey Blount & the Peasants in New Zealand

The work of the Haslemere Peasants was exhibited in New Zealand as part of a British Government exhibition.  The Arts and Crafts works were curated by Walter Crane.

In 5 December 1906 there is an article in Evening Post  describing "the room at the Exhibition Art Gallery devoted to craft works.  These were sent out by the British Government as examples of the ideals to follow in our struggle for the beautiful...A visit to the wall in the Craft room specially devoted to the craftwork of William Morris, shows his marvellous power over tone applied to textile manufactures, in all its force.

The British Government Arts and Crafts Exhibit at the New Zealand International Exhibition, 1906

"One of his energies was the starting of cottage weaving, now carried on by Godfrey Blount, an architect, of Hazlemere (sic), a village in Surrey, Mr Edmund Hunter, of the Edmunds Association of Weavers, and others.  They have on view a large and varied collection of hand-woven articles, beautiful in design, in colour and in texture.  No. 234 is a hand-spun silk, founded on the thistledown, and has all the lightsome beauty of the down in colouring, and a lightly suggested head of thistledown all over the fabric makes a very fine piece of design.  A great deal of the work of the cottage weavers is on view in glass cases about the British sector.  Some of these are exceptionally beautiful in texture, and certainly fulfil the adage “that strength and honour are in her clothing.”  One especially lifts itself out as more than usually lovely.  It is a combination, woven of silk and linen, in flashing grass green colouring, and for perfection has hardly ever been surpassed.  These handwoven linens and silks are woven in the cottages of the English villagers by the women themselves.  These are for a lifetime.  Any housewife who has been lucky enough to own a pair of Irish linen sheets, made by the Irish weavers in their homes, will appreciate what it would mean to have their tablecloths, linen sofa covers, and cream canvas curtains hand-woven.

"All of these articles are shown here, the produce of spare time in quiet English villages.  The men are away working all day, and the Peasants’ Arts Society have endeavoured, with what seems astounding success, to put artistic craft into the hands of the cottagers, and at the same time to put money into their pockets. ..There is another, door-hanging, hand woven, No. 347, with a design of a vine intertwined with the grapes, and a flying bird.  This shows how it is possible to harmonise contrasting colour.  The colour scheme is a deep olive-green, deep scarlet, deep blue, and deep organe, and in the hands of any one but an artist, such a combination would have made the hanging a thing of horror, a nightmare, where this is quiet and harmonious.  This was designed by Edmund Hunter and woven by the St Edmund’s Weavers Society.”

Christchurch City Libraries (here) describes the 1906 Exhibition thus "The art exhibition proved hugely popular, attracting one and a half million visitors. "To a great many New Zealanders the British Art display… was the most attractive section of the Exhibition". It was gratifying, the Press enthused, that New Zealanders should have the opportunity to see the largest art exhibit ever shown by the Mother Country at an international exhibition...The exhibition of British art at the International Exhibition was the first major collection of non-colonial art seen in New Zealand. The collection "was one of the most perfect … ever sent from Great Britain, and by far the finest ever shown in a British colony"...
"An important Arts and Crafts section, with 690 works by 171 artists, was put together by Walter Crane and Alfred Longden. This section included furniture and furnishings, textiles, jewellery, metalwork, book bindings, glass, ceramics, mosaics, wood carvings, silver and illuminations. Nearly half the exhibitors were women, including the only New Zealander, Alice Beatrice Waymouth of Christchurch who exhibited art jewellery work and sold 8 pieces.
The New Zealand Government paid for the collection of the works, packing, insurance, transportation and the cost of installation, a total of £7126."

Saturday, 31 March 2018

Healthy, happy and sane

Quoted in 'The Girl Wanted',
Nixon Waterman,
Forbes & Company, 1913

Friday, 30 March 2018

The Utter Gladness of the Spring by Godfrey Blount

"How can my spirit 
fitly sing the utter 
Gladness of the Spring
When every crocus
cracks a clod bursts 
its shell and shouts
to God"

Godfrey Blount

by Godfrey Blount
reproduced courtesy of Haslemere Educational Museum

Thursday, 29 March 2018

Godfrey Blount, the Peasants & the Clarion Guild of Handicraft

In 1901 Blount is described as “urging the readers of the Clarion to pay more attention to Morris’s aesthethic theories.  In response, Julia Dawson helped to launch the Clarion Handicraft Guild ‘Joy in work, and hope in leisure’ became their motto” (Waters, Chris, British Socialists and the Politics of Popular Culture, 1884-1914, Manchester University Press, 1990, p173).

The Comrade, Volume 3, Number 3, p.57 

Godfrey Blount’s applique panel ‘The Spies’ which is held by the Victoria & Albert Museum, is recorded as being exhibited in 1903 at the second annual exhibition  of the Clarion Guild.  The Peasant Arts Society is listed as lending it's sympathetic support to the exhibition as one of the “best-known and most successful craftsmen and craftswomen in the country” (Spargo, John, ‘Socialism and the Arts and Crafts Movement’, The Comrade, Volume 3, Number 3, p.57 )  Edmund Hunter also exhibited a woven strip.   

from The Comrade, Volume 3, Number 3
The Clarion Guild of Handicraft encouraged ordinary people to undertake handicrafts "As most of the members are workingmen and women who have to earn their living during the day, they are only able to devote their scanty leisure to the pursuit of the their ideals in this direction.  They rent a room for guild purposes, holding meetings for discussion, classes, and the like, and doing their work there.  Thus they overcome a very serious obstacle which the lack of room in their homes presents.  They avoid making workshops of their already too cramped and overcrowded homes.  …Annual exhibitions are a feature of the new movement and a beautiful challenge shield of embossed colored leather, the work of a member of one of the Guilds, is awarded to the local Guild which makes the best exhibit.    At the second annual exhibition, held in the quaintly beautiful city of Chester, last Easter, Walter Crane, in a felicitous speech awarded it to the Liverpool Guild." (ibid.)

The Comrade, Volume 3, Number 3, p.57
As Spargo concluded "Why should we not have Socialist Handicraft Guilds in this country?  I see no reason why we should not have "Comrade Guilds" patterned after the "Clarion Guilds".  For we, too, are of the faith." (ibid.) 

Edmund Hunter's Stag & Deer Silk Panel

This silk panel that was auctioned in 2017 shows in my mind an influence from the Haslemere Peasants.  Vine leaves, grapes and deer, it has all the ingredients of Godfrey Blount's designs.  Made by Edmund Hunter's St Edmundsbury Weavers, suggested to be made around 1900, when the St Edmundsbury Weavers were based at College Hill, Haslemere.

St Edmundsbury Weavers Stag and Deer Silk Fabric Hanging
from Lyon&Turnbull

The piece is described as:

depicting opposed stags on a vine ground, within grey silk border 
42 x 49.5cm, including border 70 x 76.5cm 
Estimate £ 200-300 "

St Edmundsbury Weavers
detail from Lyon&Turnbull

The piece sold for £1,000.

Saturday, 17 March 2018

Royal Academy artists petition for H.G. Hine’s family

There is a letter on eBay that is currently for sale $500, you can purchase it here.

Dated June 1913, on headed paper from the private members club, The Athenaeum, Pall Mall, the letter is addressed to the Prime Minister., Herbert Henry Asquith.

Petition to the Prime Minister
from eBay here
“We desire to bring to your notice the claims for a Civil List Pension of the three unmarried daughters of the late Henry George Hine – Vice President of the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colour.

Mr H. G. Hine was held in very high esteem both as an artist and a man by the leading members of his profession.  He was one of the first contributors to “Punch” and drew for other publications.  Later in his life he took on any?? High position as an exponent of the essentially British Art of Water-Colour painting.  His refined and thorough work – reflecting his loveable & gentle character-revealed to his fellow countryman the beauties of the South Downs, the charms of his native County of Sussex.  His pictures are always sought after for International Exhibitions.  Where they are certainly valuable additions to the British Section.  He died at an advanced age, working till within a few days of his death.  He had a large family & died poor.

This appeal to aid his three unmarried daughters is to enable them to rest from the work which up to the present they have bravely continued

The ages of these ladies are seventy, sixty-six and sixty-four."

A number of signatures, of which the following names can be deciphered (or copied from the write-up on the sale):
"Edward J. Poynter 
Ernest Waterlow
Walter William Ouless
Frank Dicksee
Hubert von Herkomer
William Blake Richmond KCB RA
Briton Riviere
George Clausen

John Seymour Lucas"

Petition to the Prime Minister
from eBay

Looking at the Hine family tree, I think the 3 sisters that the petition is requesting a Civil List pension for are:
Alice Hine (1843-?)
Elizabeth M Hine (1846-1922)
Marian Hine (1848-1937) - who was living in Haslemere in Greenbushes (1901) and Silverbirches (1911).

Friday, 16 March 2018

Black Magic and White by Mrs Godfrey Blount

This poem printed in The Vineyard, April 1913 reminds me of Ethel (Mrs Godfrey Blount) & Maude's presentation to the General Meeting of the the Peasant Arts Fellowship in 1912 (Caxton Hall, 28th February), which is recorded in their Peasant Arts Guild Paper “To give a little girl the use of her hands is to bring a disinherited princess back into her kingdom” (‘Our experience of the Influence of Handicraft upon the Workers’, Peasant Arts Guild Paper, No. 10 , Ethel Blount and Maude E. King).  

from Blount, Ethel, The Story of the Homespun Web

When time was young a princess fell
     (A heart most rare,
     A soul most fair!)
Beneath a fiendish wizard's spell.

His Hell-broth won, the poison wrought;
     Afar from man
     The princess ran
De-humanised, a thing distraught.

From out the kindly human ranks
    She ran, accurst,   
    For blood a-thirst,
With tawny stripes upon her flanks,

Then came at night in dreadful quest
   To roam and roam
   Around her home
Where once with Love she took her rest.

She saw her husband's spear and dart;
   The eyes of ire
   Glared forth the fire
That fed upon the tiger-heart!

She saw her children's dolls and ships;
   Without a sound
   She snuffed around
And licked those dreadful, dreadful lips;

Then saw her pretty weaving gear
   Of flax and loom;
   In puzzled gloom
The tiger-heart began to fear

from Blount, Ethel, The Story of the Homespun Web

There lay her little spinning-wheel,
   The band unbound,
   The reel unwound;
The tiger-heart began to feel.

There lay her dainty little pirn,
   The thread undone,
   The wool unspun;
The woman-heart began to burn;

The cruel heart, the eyes of steel
   Began to yearn,
   Began to turn
At sight of flax and fleece and wheel.

The yellow stripes and eyes of gloom
   Began to fade,
   Passed into shade;
The princess stood beside her loom.

The loom and spindle, flax and fleece,
   The living art,
   Called back her heart
And filled her soul with vital peace.

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Greville MacDonald, Wildwood and Electoral Rolls

Greville MacDonald moved to Haslemere upon retirement and lived in Wildwood, a house on Weydown Road, which still bears this name today.  However, having looked at the electoral register for Greville MacDonald, it's interesting to see that before moving to Haslemere, Greville was living in a house also called Wildwood, on North End, Hampstead, London.

Tooley's Farm, Hampstead Heath,
also known as Wildwood
old postcard
This property was on what was previously called Wyldes Farm, which was divided in 1903 into 3 farms, one of which was called "Tooley's or Wildwood" (Hampstead Heath net).  The property seems to suit Greville's literary tastes.  It has a blue plaque to the artist John Linnell and to William Blake.  MacDonald greatly admired Blake and wrote various articles on him such as "William Blake: His Critics" (vol. 2, p558), "William Blake: His Masters" (vol. 2, p626) and "William Blake: The Practical Idealist" (vol.5, p98) in The Vineyard.  The City of London writes here that: "Wyldes soon became the destination of eminent people. In the earlier part of the 19th Century several well-known artists of the day either stayed at or visited Wyldes, including: 

  • John Linnell
  • William Henry Hunt
  • William Collins (whose son Wilkie, the novelist, used to play in the garden when a child)
  • George Romney
  • John Constable
  • William Blake"
from Wyldes Farm, Hampstead

It appears that Greville must have had some happy association with the name 'Wildwood' and transferred it from Hampstead to Haslemere.  

Looking at Greville's other addresses on the electoral roll:

Hollywood House, Kingstonhill

  • From 1889 Greville is registered at 47 (or sometimes 49) Queen Anne Street, Marylebone.  
  • In 1892 Greville moved to nearby 85 Harley Street.  
  • In 1910 Greville is still registered at 85 Harley Street, but is noted as living at Holmwood, Kingstonhill  This house might be what is now called Holmwood House, and was previously owned by Ronnie Wood of The Rolling Stones, as reported in The Daily Mail here.
  • Between 1906-1914 Greville is registered as a qualifying property St George's Cottage, Haslemere
  • In 1915 Greville is recorded at Wildwood, North End, Hampstead
  • In 1920 and 1921 MacDonald is registered at 17 Duke Street, the Peasant Arts Society HQ, but is noted as "abode, Wildwood, Haslemere".

Saturday, 10 March 2018

From Stockbroker to Peasant: the Kings and the Sings

It is reported that Joseph King's grandfather founded the Liverpool Stock Exchange, The Provincial Stock Exchange (Thomas, William Arthur, Routledge, 2012) explains "Sing, White and Company was formed in 1825 by Joseph King, one of the first brokers in Liverpool, and Chairman of the Stock Exchange from 1840-44.  In 1877 the business was continued by his nephew Alexander Millington Synge, and since then a member of the family has held a connection with the firm."  Sing, White and Company merged with Tilney, Parr and Rae in 1966.

Liverpool Stock Exchange building,
situated in the East Wing, on the right
from The Liverpool Picture Book
Thomas explains that "The leading movers in the establishment of the Association were probably the nine sharebrokers given in the 1835 Liverpool Directory.  Richard Dawson entered the stockbroking profession in 1827 having been a "gunpowder agent" and one time agent to Norwich Union Fire and Life office.  Thomas Barber, Thomas Harris and Thomas Read became brokers in 1834, John Fletcher in 1835, as also did Jonathon Flounders who gave up his previous profession of being a "Gentleman".  Joseph King described as an accountant in 1825 took to share dealing around 1827, as did William O'Kill, also an accountant.  Thomas Coglan was certainly active in share dealing in 1827 and was also the proprietor of the Floating Bath in the Mersey.  In addition to the twenty-one at the first meeting, ten new members joined in April, and a further fifteen during the remaining months of 1836.  ...At subsequent meetings held at the Mersey Coffee House and "Mr King's office" the admission fee was fixed at 10 gns" 

It seems strange that King did not include his name in the company Sing, White and Company, if he formed the company himself.  However looking at the family tree it would appear that the 'Sing' is Joshua Sing, who was King's brother-in-law.   According to The family of Synge or Sing online here Joshua was a Justice of the Peace.  Alexander Millington Synge who continued the business was Joshua's second son.  Alexander's second child was Mary Florentia Synge, she is marked "Of Haslemere" in The family Synge or Sing and therefore I feel confident in identifying her as Flora Synge.  It was Flora's weaving that was used to unveil the Blue Plaque at Green Bushes Weaving House a few years ago, see here for more details.   And so in two generations the stockbroker became a peasant, in what the movement would have called the third group of the future peasantry "These are the men and women whom a surfeit a civilisation has left healthily dissatisfied, and who will be peasants by choice, not by birth" (The Vineyard, New Series, Christmas 1918).

'Miss Flora Synge at her spinning wheel at Kings Road, Haslemere in 1917' 
from  Janaway, John,  Surrey: A Photographic Record 1850-1920, Countryside Books, 1984

Alexander lived in Dawstone, Windermere.  This was a notable Arts and Crafts house designed by Dan Gibson in 1903. It features in The Arts and Crafts Houses of the Lake District (Hyde, Matthew and Whittaker, Esme, Frances Lincoln, 2014) "built high above the town of Windermere on the outskirts of Heathwaite, is typical of the arts and Crafts houses occupying elevated sites.  The distance of the site from Lake Windermere, in comparison to the properties which line the lake's banks, would have been compensated for by the views that were afforded from this position.  As the writer Lawrence Weaver observed in the magazine Country Life, it is 'perched on the hill like an eyrie from which the vision sweeps round a complete panorama from Helvellyn to Morecombe Bay'.  The owner of Dawstone, the Liverpool stock and share broker Alexander Millington Sing, had purchased the site, known as Undermillbeck Common, from G.H.Pattinson." The house is now called Gillthwaite Rigg, a part of which is now a B&B.  Interestingly there is a photograph that purports to be a "ventilation grille incorporating the initials of the house owner at Dawstone", see below, although I am puzzled by the sequence ASM and not AMS if this is the case.  Joseph King, Alexander's cousin, also liked to put his initials on his buildings, and perhaps this was a family trait.

from The Arts and Crafts Houses of the Lake District,(Hyde, Matthew and Whittaker, Esme, Frances Lincoln, 2014)

Dawstone ground floor plan from
Built from Below: British Architecture and the Vernacular,
(Guillery, Peter, Routledge, 2011)

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